Our work with middle schools is a natural extension of our work with elementary and high schools throughout the country. New Tech middle schools employ the key design elements that make NTN schools successful: outcomes that matter, teaching that engages, culture that empowers, and technology that enables.
Outcomes that Matter
- Student learning is focused on a broad range of learning outcomes.
- The NTN Learning Outcomes (knowledge & thinking, collaboration, oral and written communication, and agency) guide curriculum design instruction and feedback.
- Students regularly reflect on their progress on the NTN Learning Outcomes, including areas of strength and areas for growth.
Teaching that Engages
- PBL is the primary mode of instruction.
- Projects are standards-based and focus on a broad range of learning outcomes. Projects are often grounded in social studies and/or science standards.
- Projects have a meaningful purpose for students and are tied to the community when possible.
- Scaffolding within projects is developmentally appropriate and supports individual student needs. Students spend time in both heterogeneous and homogeneous groups.
- Literacy is cross-curricular and integrated into the context of the project.
- Literacy instruction supports content instruction and vice versa.
- Reading and writing instruction are incorporated into the context of the project.
- Foundational literacy skills are taught alongside the project and integrated within the project when applicable.
- Math is inquiry-based.
- Learning is focused on reasoning and sense-making through open-ended math problems.
- Students have regular opportunities to collaborate and engage in discussions about mathematical concepts.
- Numeracy is reinforced in projects (number awareness, looking for patterns, making sense of data, interpreting graphs / diagrams); skills and concepts are connected to projects when applicable.
- Skill development is reinforced through guided and independent practice.
- Assessments guide student learning and instructional decisions.
- Schools have a balanced assessment system that focuses on assessment of both basic skills and a broader range of student outcomes.
- Projects include a range of assessments, including curriculum-embedded performance tasks and peer and self-assessments.
- Assessment practices, such as student-led conference, portfolios, and exhibitions support student agency.
Culture that Empowers
- The school staff engages in continuous learning and improvement.
- Staff actively collaborate around the vision and mission of the school and use inclusive decision-making practices with key stakeholders.
- Grade level teams work in collaboration with support staff in project design and analysis of student work to inform instructional decisions.
- Schoolwide structures for adult learning include daily shared planning time for teams and regular staff meeting time.
- Students engage in a collaborative learning culture centered on trust, respect, and responsibility.
- Students actively collaborate on projects and build positive relationships with peers and staff members. Students have opportunities to work within diverse groups.
- Students have voice and choice in their learning.
- The school proactively supports social-emotional growth within the context of the learning.
Technology that Enables
- Technology is a tool, not a focus.
- Students use technology to enhance and support their learning, including using tech tools to create, communicate, collaborate, and investigate.
- Students have a 1-1 device/student ratio and actively use NTN’s online learning platform, Echo.
- Lower grade levels have regular access to devices to support their learning. Often devices are used to support learners in centers and small group instruction.
- Schools actively work to monitor screen time and ensure technology use is developmentally appropriate.